Welcome to a week long blog series to kick of #NanoWriMo from Novel Publicity Bloggers!
By Kevin MaNamara / Writing an excellent story can be quite difficult and frustrating. You have an outline in your head, and you already know how it will begin or end. But who will run the storyline? Who can stick your readers to when they try to be introspective about your story?
These are what characters are for. They bring forth the messages of your story as well as the important themes within it. However, the challenging aspect sometimes is how to create a character. Writers do not just think of the physical appearance or gender of the character. While the physical attributes are important to know, an in-depth view of the character carries the substance. The key here is to create layers upon layers of your character and slowly peeling them as the story continues.
To do this, here are the seven secrets to perfecting character creation:
Be as descriptive as possible
If you look at all the memorable characters out there such as Harry Potter and Frodo, you will notice that they are very noticeable and unique in terms of appearance. Harry Potter had a scar on his forehead, and it was an important description all throughout the seven books. The goal here is to tag as many descriptions to your character so that your readers can fully imagine them. As your readers go along the adventure of your character in your story, the image of your character will then be fixed in their heads, making them memorable.
Develop your character’s personality
Once you are done with your character’s physical attributes, you can start developing your character’s personality. This is where you ask yourself what your character’s preferences and dislikes are or how he or she views the world. You can also add here how your character behaves towards other characters in your story or how your character reacts when something is done to him or her.
You can see it this way: your first layer is your physical attributes while the second layer of your character is his or her personality.
Create your character’s history
Another important layer that you should add to your character is his or her background. After you have created a set of likes and dislikes for your character, you have to have space to justify or explain why those are your character’s preferences. This is done in the form of relaying to the readers perhaps even just a brief history of your character. Where was your character born? Who are your character’s parents? Does he or she have traumatic experiences?
Aside from being an explanation as to why your character is made a certain way, your character’s history can also determine what he or she might do in the future.
Give your character a reason for being
Of course we all know why your character is in the story, but what your readers want to know is why your character is portrayed as such. It is important to note what your character wants to achieve in his or her life within the story. What are his or her aspirations? How does your character see himself or herself in the future?
This layer gives the readers a glimpse of how your character’s past and present has fully shaped him or her. This also even makes your character even more memorable because he or she has a quest, and your readers might want to see that quest accomplished.
Be clear with your character’s strengths and weaknesses
Contrary to popular belief, so-called perfect characters are actually not as memorable as those who seem to be human. While it could be tempting to create a character that can do anything and be anything, it simply is in our nature to remember those we can relate to. As such, it is important to show your readers that, although your character has a lot of strong points that make them impressive, he or she also has weaknesses that he or she has to overcome.
Challenge your character
It is not enough that you tell your readers about what your character’s preferences, strengths, and weaknesses are. It is important to show it in the story, and the best way to solidify the layers of your character is to make him or her encounter a problem. Problems easily reveal your character’s different dimensions because they force your character to react mentally, thereby showing your character’s thought process as well as emotional capacity. With all this happening simultaneously, your readers will definitely get a good look at your character and probably even get to know your character even better. If your readers are already attached to your characters by the time the problem arises, they might even try to predict what your character will do.
Evaluate your character
After you have created your character’s layers and slowly peeling them off one by one throughout the story so your readers get a glimpse of every dimension of your character, you have to allot a space in your story where your character is evaluated. This evaluation is important because this is where you and your readers get to fully understand your character as a whole. Some stories do this as a sort of reflection of what happened during your character’s greatest dilemma.
In this part of your story, your character would reflect on the decisions he or she chose while trying to solve the problem he or she encountered. Here, your readers will see if the decision of your character was consistent with your character’s other layers: history, personality, etc. Your readers might also check if your character’s way of handling the problem he or she encountered could help him or her achieve his short or long-term goals.
What makes this a very important step in character creation is that your readers are a part of this. It’s a very interactive step where they reflect and analyze your character as well, making it even more memorable for them since it stays on their minds for a long period of time, showing that you character actually piqued their interest.
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